Region on bushfire alert: total fire ban today, temps set to soar

SOURCE: The Courier

TODAY has been declared a day of total fire ban, with fire authorities across the region gearing up for the bushfire threat. 

The day is expected to reach a top of 33 degrees in the region, with strong winds also predicted. 

Country Fire Authority regional controller for the Grampians region Phil Beasley said although a change would come during the afternoon, there would still be a fire threat. 

Low humidity makes the threat even more concerning, according to Mr Beasley.

“That associated with the very strong winds, which will continue well into the night, and there is a 20 to 30 per cent chance for lightning.” 

Mr Beasley said one of the problems was Ballarat had not experienced extremely hot weather yet, meaning some residents were complacent. 

“You can drive and still see green grass around Ballarat but the potential is still there on a day like tomorrow,” he said. 

“There is still sufficient dry grass and the forests are dry enough around Ballarat.

“If it gets ignited or a fire starts, they will rapidly develop under the conditions. The fact that we have strong winds, dry air and high temperatures is enough to start a fire, and it doesn’t need to be a large fire like we saw north of Heathcote.”

The fire in the Heathcote area started on Thursday and has so far burnt more than 1130 hectares of land.

Fire restrictions are already in place in the Ballarat region, meaning no burning off can occur without a permit. 

“On a day like tomorrow there will not be any permits issued,” Mr Beasley said. 

“The time for disposing of rubbish by fire has passed and the only option people have is to stockpile it safely or take it to green waste, take it to the local waste disposal or mulch it around trees.” 

While Mr Beasley said it was important to keep your property clean and tidy, he urged residents to avoid using any machinery today. 

“Don’t operate machinery. Wait until the weather cools,” he said. 

“For today, don’t use anything, don’t use grinders, drills, lawn mowers or anything like that because the smallest spark could start a fire.” 

Mr Beasley said it was important residents had a fire plan and left early if they were feeling vulnerable. 

“If they believe they can defend their property, they are well prepared and they have fire equipment on hand and have done their fire prevention and the like, then they will be OK to stay and defend,” he said. 

“But if they are not prepared then they should plan to leave early.”

matthew.dixon@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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